UC Berkeley press release

NEWS RELEASE, 10/15/96

UC Berkeley's Interactive University gives K-12 students a helping hand via the Internet's vast resources

by Jesus Mena

Berkeley -- Putting a human face on technology, the U.S. Department of Commerce is helping to fund an ambitious Bay Area project that will bring University of California at Berkeley faculty and students into K-12 schools via the Internet.

UC Berkeley's Interactive University project represents collaboration between the university and schools, community groups and industry partners in San Francisco and Oakland. It is part of the Berkeley Pledge, an outreach program launched by Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien a year ago.

The Interactive University was unveiled by school, city, university and federal officials today (Oct. 15) at a press conference at Phillip and Sala Burton High School in San Francisco.

Assistant Commerce Secretary Larry Irving joined school, city and college officials to announce a $650,000 Commerce Department grant that will provide the core support for the project.

Other partners in the project are the city of Oakland, more than a dozen schools in Oakland and San Francisco, and corporate leaders IBM and Pacific Bell.

"The Bay Area is well known for its beautiful bridges, but with this grant, and more than $4 million dollars that participants will contribute in matching resources, we are building a new, invisible bridge across the bay -- a bridge between K-12 and higher education," said project coordinator, UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol T. Christ.

"This project will allow seventh graders in an urban school to use NASA satellite data to do math and science projects, and will allow a high school freshman class to take a field trip to Mount Diablo without leaving their school. These activities will be made possible through our unprecedented collaboration to build a national technology model."

Through the Interactive University, K-12 students can capture images with the UC Santa Barbara Remotely Operated Telescope run by UC astronomers, have a UC Berkeley student serve as their personal tutor, do their math with data supplied by researchers operating a NASA satellite, and go online to discuss world affairs with distinguished international visitors to the campus.

All told, 30 departments and several hundred UC Berkeley professors, staff members and students are expected to participate in the project, building relationships through cyberspace with K-12 students.

The U.S. Commerce Department applauded the Bay Area program for using technology to make a successful connection between students in needy communities and university mentors.

The federal funds are a product of an "initiative to help bridge the gap between the information 'haves' and 'have nots'," said U.S. Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor. "The Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program is helping to prepare our citizens for the Information Age and assuring that all Americans have access to its benefits."

Examples of Interactive University activities include:

o UC Berkeley undergraduates in the Haas School of Business tutoring and mentoring 11th-grade students at Thurgood Marshall High School in San Francisco via desktop video-conferencing. Partners on this project include the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education.

o Chat sessions between world leaders, dignitaries and Bay Area students, through the award-winning Institute of International Studies project at UC Berkeley. Last spring the project permitted 10th-grade students in San Francisco's Hunters Point to talk remotely with Sir Brian Urquhart, former undersecretary-general of the United Nations.

o Training teachers in Oakland's Fruitvale Elementary School and San Francisco's Phillip and Sala Burton High School to use Internet data from the UC Berkeley/NASA Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer satellite to teach math. This project is sponsored by UC Berkeley's Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astrophysics.

o Providing young science students with hands-on control of the UC Santa Barbara Remotely Operated Telescope to search for supernovas and seek evidence of black holes. The Center for Particle Astrophysics offers this experience.

o Virtual field trips on the "Trail Through Time," which stretches across 150 million years of natural history at Mount Diablo. This trek through time, developed by high school students working with UC Berkeley researchers and graduate students, features graphics and data from the UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology collections. It documents the region's life, fossils and geology over millions of years.

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